ASIA Families is honored to partner with Chris Poirier, a Korea Bridge Tour participant and Camp Rice volunteer, to establish an annual college scholarship for adoptees in memory of Chris’s brother, Walter Jonathan Poirier.
In February 2001, when Chris was 10 years old, his older brother Walter was working as a Peace Corps volunteer in Bolivia. One day, Walter vanished and was never heard from again.
In Chris’s words: “When I was 10 years old, my mother came to grab me because my brother Walter was on the phone. Phone communication with him was the delight of my entire family, and it was the highlight of my night. I was the last one to speak with him. However, the conversation was brief because it wasn't the best connection.”
“I still remember calling out to him through the phone. He couldn’t hear me properly, but I could hear him. His final words in this conversation were ‘Chris, I just want you to know that I love you very much…’ And just as quickly as I received the phone, I gave it back to my mom as she smiled and put the phone back on the hook. I went back to my room ready for bed, thinking how excited I’ll be to see him when he returns…but he never did.”
More than 200,000 young Americans have volunteered for service with the Peace Corps since its inception in 1961; 279 have died in service. Walter Poirier is its only volunteer reported missing and never found.
In Chris’s words: “I think of my brother daily, and often frequent the website started to honor his name and re-read stories about him from friends to keep his memory always fresh in my mind. He was off to college when I was 6 years old and left for the Peace Corps upon graduating from Notre Dame.”
“Well, now I am no longer just the ‘little brother’. Now, I am in a position where it’s my turn to not just fully inherit my family’s pain, but make sure my brother Walter’s name will live on for the world to know and give my parents as much closure as possible.”
In memory of Walter: A scholarship for adoptees
In recent years, Chris has become active as a volunteer and voice in the Korean adoption community. In doing so, he has discovered a powerful way to make a difference in the lives of children and adults adopted from Korea as well as their families. He views the establishment of this scholarship as the next step in supporting adoptees and bringing a sense of peace to his family.
In Chris’s words: “My brother was always about making a difference, through his actions, in the spirit of helping those in need. I’m always told about the difference he made in people’s lives when I meet so many residents in the community I grew up in.”
“As painful as this experience was for my family and me, the best way I believe to honor his life is to build this scholarship fund so generations of adoptees can have support for their education.”
“So, with this scholarship, every recipient will not just get to know me, but Walter’s story as well. His story will be able to be told, and his spirit will be passed on, through me, to other adoptees in search for higher learning, just like Walter used to always search for knowledge.”
How to apply for the Walter Jonathan Poirier Endowment Scholarship
Eligibility: This scholarship is open to adoptees who are currently enrolled in undergraduate or graduate programs in the United States.
Application Requirements: To apply for this scholarship, you must:
Write an essay or create a video statement (see the application for details).
Obtain a transcript from your college or university.
Forward the application form, essay, and transcript to Grace Song, Executive Director of ASIA Families by March 31, 2019.
Selection Process: A selection committee consisting of Grace Song, Chris Poirier, and Sarah O’Neill, the president of the Boston Korean Adoptees will review the applications. All applicants will be notified with the final decision by April 30, 2019.
Award Amount and Ceremony: One finalist will receive a $2,500 scholarship. The scholarship will be awarded on May 15, 2019 at the closing ceremony for ASIA Families’ Korean Culture School in Rockville, MD.